August 23, 2017

Dealing with the Symptoms of and Preventing Severe Opiate Withdrawal

[frame align=”left”]Opiate Withdrawal[/frame]Addiction to opiates is not only a serious health risk but can wreak havoc with your body chemistry including massive psychological problems. Dealing with the symptoms of opiate withdrawal is a slow, painful process. Unfortunately, there is no alternative for anyone who wants to stop taking opiates. Nevertheless, while there are no alternatives but to go through the opiate withdrawal process, there are options to lessen the nasty feelings that come with the experience.

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Recognizing Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal is difficult because they closely mimic the symptoms of the flu or a very advanced and nasty cold. The most common opiate withdrawal symptoms include the flu-like symptoms such as chills, excessive sweating with alternating bouts of excessively feeling cold, dizziness, cough, sneezing, body aches, muscle and bone aches, tremors, muscle cramps, and others.

Despite it being difficult to tell the flu and withdrawal symptoms apart, it is good to know a person with the flu will not feel as “clammy” as one withdrawing from opiates. Additionally, a person in withdrawal will have excessive sweats and chills at the same time and in most cases, without a fever present. These are telltale signs of opiate withdrawal. More severe opiate withdrawal symptoms include priapism, tachycardia, weak pulse, and extremely slowed breathing.

Rapid Detox to Prevent Opiate Withdrawal

Rapid detox programs main purpose in stopping the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal. The treatment consists of placing the patient into an Intensive Care Unit in a hospital setting. The physician then administers anesthesia for approximately 12 – 18 hours, depending on the extent to which the patient is dependent on the opiates.

While under anesthesia, the doctors present administer naloxone in very high doses in the beginning. Naloxone is the generic name of Narcam, the “overdose drug.” Naloxone is an opiate antagonist, which blocks the effects that narcotics have on the body, including those of opiates. Naloxone is given during the entire time the patient is sedated, after the initial high doses; it is given as a slow infusion. When the patient is awakened, he or she will allegedly be completely free of any opiates being in the body and as such, will not experience any opiate withdrawal symptoms.

The drawback to this method is that a study conducted by Columbia University shows that rapid detox using anesthesia for the treatment of opiate dependency and opiate withdrawal symptoms is not as effective in comparison to traditional treatment programs. The rate of relapse, withdrawal symptoms, and withdrawal from the treatment program itself was the same throughout the three methods tested. Doctors have recommended that any anesthesia-based treatment not be administered for the treatment of opiate withdrawal symptoms of any kind. Another factor in the rapid detox is that it does not affect the psychological effects of withdrawal in any way, and at least one third of patients relapse within a month of treatment ending.

Traditional Detox and Rehab to Treat Opiate Withdrawal

While some people do opt for rapid detox when attempting to “get clean” and sober, or prevent opiate withdrawal, most will turn to traditional methods, such as an inpatient detox and rehab center or an at home maintenance plan. A traditional detox center seeks to curb the most grueling aspects of physical opiate withdrawal with synthetic opiate antagonist medications and “comfort meds” such as Tylenol, barbiturates, anti anxiety medications, and others to help calm the person in opiate withdrawal.

Typically, when entering a detox program of this type, the dependent person is observed for 12 – 24 hours to determine the extent to which he or she is dependent. During this time, the nurses and doctors are watching for the onset of opiate withdrawal symptoms and looking to see how severe they are. Doing this allows them to prescribe the proper amount of withdrawal ceasing medication without giving too much. However, if a patient is given too little, the dose can be increased if necessary.

Depending on what type of opiate the patient is dependent on will determine the type of medication he or she is given to lessen he opiate withdrawal. If a person is addicted to painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin and other similar prescription medications, they are given Subutex. If a person is addicted to morphine, heroin and sometimes Dilaudid, the patient is given methadone instead.

Opiate withdrawal is an experience many opiate addicts would like to forgo when detoxing. Unfortunately, opiate withdrawal is inevitable. However, using one of the treatment programs listed can help lessen the symptoms. By combining detox with a long-term psychological treatment program, opiate withdrawal of any kind does not have to last forever.

Overall, an individual wanting to take the first step in recovering from opiate addiction is the start of a new life. There may be times where the urge to return to opiate use is tempting, but resisting is the best choice.